This post is by TheNotMom team writer Laura LaVoie:
As someone who made the decision not to have kids, I sometimes think about the future. I’m not quite 40, so I know I have a while to go, but what do we do when we are older and need long term care? Recently, my freelance writing job put me in touch with a couple of women who have answered that question for themselves.
Deena lives in Denver, Colorado. She is disabled with a condition that can cause every joint in her body to become dislocated for no reason at all. Deena didn’t want to go into assisted living, so she took matters into her own hands. She repurposed a 180 square foot structure to be a tiny but accessible living space. You can read more about her story at Tiny House Talk. Since her small home is situated behind a larger home, she rents that space to a friend who is there to help when needed.
I also had the pleasure of meeting a local speaker, Marianne Kilkenny, who advocates for women to live in community. At her website, she shares her mission to help women around the U.S. build communities as they age. Her concept can be for anyone, including women with children, but is about alternatives to assisted living and nursing homes – just like Deena’s story. Marianne walks the talk; she lives in a shared home herself.
As women without children we need to consider what kind of life we want as we begin to age. Do we want to live in community? Do we want to live independently? Without children to take care of us when we’re older, which is considered normal in American society, we need to make alternative plans.
Intentional communities, or co-housing, is just one way to make this happen for ourselves. The tiny house movement, especially accessible structures, is another way. In fact, a tiny house intentional community is a possibility combining both alternative living concepts.
Matt and I have talked about our options, and even before I ever spoke with Deena or Marianne we had similar ideas. We may build a small house in conjunction with a rental property and develop a relationship with someone who can live in the larger structure to help us out.
We have often thought of building a tiny house community with accessible structures that can be an alternative for a number of people who want to live in small spaces as they age. Small houses mean less maintenance and are perfect for the aging community.
What are your plans as you age without children? Where do you see yourself in your senior years?
Photo Credit: NBC-TV (The Golden Girls showed an early example of creative co-housing!)